20. 13 - Extract from Annabeth Shadownight's Journal
Aunt Midnight and Uncle Tom returned today. There are so many surprises, it's hard to get them all down properly. First of all, Aunt Midnight looked like she was twenty-five and not a day older, and Uncle Tom looked, well... very unlike himself. I always remembered him have this really ugly cut on his face and he definitely wasn't as tall. I briefly wondered whether Aunt Midnight had ditched my uncle and brought some other guy home. She looked pretty enough to be able to do that. But it is Uncle Tom - his voice, his cusses, his everything else. No-one was more shocked than Ted, Uncle Tom's son-in-law.
I could laugh now at the way he said, “Oh my God, you're like eight feet tall!”
“I told ye, didn't I?” Thomas had glared, “I told you all.”
They never did like each other - what with Ted being a docile pacifist and all.
Oh, and Queenie was with them. Though, that's hardly the most surprising thing to happen today.
Midnight rushed to Kenny as soon as she was through the front door and I followed behind her to see what she would do. She pulled a flask from her pack and put it to Kenny's lips. The water funnelled through to Kenny's mouth, unnaturally, not a drop spilling away. I didn't even see her swallow.
But she jerked and screamed.
“What are you doing to her?” Mother cried, “Stop that! Get away!”
Even I protested, “Aunt Midnight!”
Kenny began to shiver and her eyes flew open. She howled, her arms flailing this way and that - and Midnight held her and rubbed her hair back, “Shh, shh! It's alright, Kenny, you're home now. You're home.”
Kenny bawled and cried, but more normally now, hugging Aunt Midnight as if she'd awaken from a nightmare.
“She's up?” Uncle Tom commented, leaning against the door-frame.
Aunt Midnight gestured for Mother to take her place, before rising and pulling Uncle Tom away by the collar in a hurry. I'd rather not imagine as to where they went or what they did - but Aunt Midnight came back around to Kenny's room after about an hour.
“So glad to have you back,” she said to Kenny.
“You look different,” Kenny laughed, “So different, like...”
“I know. One of the perks of being married to a crazy explorer-pirate,” Midnight laughed back, “How are you feeling?”
Kenny didn't answer for a while, “How long has it been?”
“More than ten years.”
“The fight with... Thierry. It's still so fresh in my head.”
Aunt Midnight touched Kenny's cheek and smiled her encouragement, “You're going to be alright, Kenny. You won, by the way. They gave you a villa in Florence.”
“Yeah. Oh, and Queenie's here. Did you see her?”
“She hasn't come around, no.”
Aunt Midnight growled, “If that girl has disappeared again, then God so help me, I'm going to-” she got up and left the room.
I looked at Kenny.
“It's alright,” she said, “I was going to take a nap anyway.”
I got up and followed Aunt Midnight to the dining room, where Aldrin, Bex and Queenie were fighting over something.
Aunt Midnight sighed, putting a hand to her head, “I missed this.”
“You did?” I asked.
“No. I'd swim through toadshit any day to avoid...” she gestured to the bickering trio, “this,” she sat down on one of the chairs and I joined her, “So... Asa mentioned that your father came around.”
“Mr Kenobi is... an interesting man,” Aunt Midnight said.
“You know him?”
“Of him, yes. I've never met him personally, but I would have liked to. He wasn't here long, was he?”
“No. He just stuck around for an afternoon.”
“Do you want to know, or...?”
“I... don't know. Mother says it's dangerous. To know.”
“It is but, believe me,” Aunt Midnight shook her head, “If you can survive your siblings and your cousins and the things they bring home - you'd gladly die of danger.”
“Can't say I disagree.”
“Your father belongs to a Middle-Eastern cult called the Sons of the Sword. I don't know how true it is, but they claim to possess the shards of King Arthur's sword, Excalibur. They claim to be mercenaries, but unlike Normandy, Bengal or...” Aunt Midnight cringed, “Poland, the Sons of the Sword seem to have an agenda. I'm not entirely sure what it is, though. I've fought amongst them before, all very skilled and twice as strict. I don't even think your father was allowed to have you, have any kind of sexual relations at all - which is probably why he's hiding you here... Did he not mention any of this?”
I shook my head, “He gave me a sword and asked me to... make a choice.”
“What kind of choice?”
“To stay here or join him.”
“I don't know. I was going to ask your advice.”
“Ooh, that's not something I can decide, Annabeth. I'm your aunt, I'd be extremely biased. I'd ask you to stay here and be safe. Relatively. But it's your father, your sword and your life. It's something you need to think about on your own.”
“Can you... tell me more? About the Sons of the Sword?”
“My knowledge on them is... extremely limited, I'm afraid. But there are ways to find things out. Give me a week. I'll see what I can dig up for you.”
“Thanks, Aunt Midnight.”
She shrugged and smiled, “What are aunts for, eh?”
“Was that-?” Aunt Midnight stood up.
I could hear Uncle Tom yelling, “Jaysus Christ! Simon, Queenie, Rebecca! Which one o' ye ungodly louts gave my Eddie and Rosie gunpowder?”